Tammuz 6, 5779
Kashering a dishwasher
Can a kosher dairy dishwasher be Kashered to be used for meat, and can a kosher meat dishwasher be Kashered to be used for dairy? If both dishwashers will not be used for more than 1 year, does this make a difference?
Thank you for your question. In a previous answer to a question as to whether a dishwasher can be koshered I wrote as follows -
“There are various opinions about whether a dishwasher can be koshered (we are referring to koshering for year round use, and not for Passover). Most dishwashers have plastic parts in them, as well as stainless steal, and different communities follow different ruling about the possibility of koshering hard plastics. Moreover, there are also different opinions as to how much non-kosher taste is absorbed into the non-kosher dishwasher – some opinions hold that the dishwasher may be considered as a pot which had non-kosher food cooked in it directly on the fire (a first vessel), and others explain that the non-kosher residual food remains would be nullified by the large amounts of water in the machine, and the soap powder, as well as adding the fact that the machine itself may be considered as only a secondary vessel (this depends on whether the water is heated up inside the machine or not). Due to these arguments some Rabbis advise not koshering a dishwasher at all, but rather replacing it. Others though say it may be koshered.
So, based on all this – it would be advisable to speak to your local Rabbi and find out what the local practice is. If however you are not in a position to where you can do this, you may rely on the opinion that permits koshering a dishwasher.
The process is as follows – firstly you need to leave the dishwasher unused for at least 24 hours. After this you should clean it very well – removing all the racks an filters and scrubbing them down with cleaning fluids. The inside of the dishwasher should also be thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned with cleaning fluid. After this, it should be reassembled, and then run though on the longest hottest cycle. The dishwasher may now be used for kosher dishes.”
Now – as to your question as to whether one may change the status of a dishwasher from milk to meat (or visa versa), we have to address several other issues.
Firstly, in general many Rabbis frown upon changing the status from milk to meat of any utensil unless it needs to be koshered anyway (from being not kosher, or for Pessach). However, there are those who are lenient in this question – and one may rely upon them if there is a need. So, if you wanted to change the status of the dishwashers we would have to examine if there is sufficient need so as to allow one to rely in the lenient views. I assume that you need to do this changeover because of changes in the kitchen etc, and in order to save money and not have to buy two new dishwashers and throw away two working models you want to change them over (or some similar situation). In my opinion this would be enough grounds to allow one to do so.
Secondly, even though we saw above (in the previous response) that koshering dishwashers is a point of argument – in this case there is more room to be lenient. That is because the dishwasher was only used for kosher foods, and as such, the level of koshering is somewhat more lenient (heter balah). This is especially so when we consider that there are those who permit the very same dishwasher to be used for both milk and meat (not at the same time). They would certainly allow you to change the status of a dishwasher from milk to meat etc. None the less, many Rabbis are strict even in this case because of the plastic components in the dishwasher, that some hold cannot be koshered.
Much depends on local custom in this area – and I advice you to ask your local Rabbi what is the local practice. However, if you do not have a community, then it is my opinion that if there is a real need to change the dishwashers over, you may do so.
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